“You can only learn so much from being told or to read about it,” says Nelson Clark who is re-training for a skilled machinist job after his dry wall company folded. “We start our right off learning to set up a machine and prepare it for operation.”
In addition to machining skills, similar jobs are waiting for people with mid-level medical careers including LPNs, lab techs, and respiratory therapists. “We need to ensure we have a trained and ready workforce to take over,” says Seligman.
If the pool of these specially-trained workers doesn’t grow – small businesses here that rely on them won’t survive. Retraining displaced workers is a start – but not enough. And that means going into high schools.
“We want to promote these (jobs) to more and more young people so early on they get the math and science necessary,” says MCC’s Kress.
MCC is seeking $600,000 in New York economic development funds to broaden the skilled workforce training programs and link them to high schools. The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Corporation supports the request and will advance it later this month.
Regions throughout the state compete for the economic dollars for these programs. A lot is at stake.
“You’re looking as much as 25 percent of the workforce leaving within the next five years,” says Kress. “Unless we build a pipeline of workers into these jobs I think as a region we’re in serious trouble.”
For every one person who graduates the skilled machining program, there will be four jobs waiting. “This program means in can have gainful employment again,” says former Kodak employee Ronald Ackerman. “You reinvent yourself every day, you have to.”